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Find other posts at Pleasures from the Page with Ramona.

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.

–Jane Kenyon, A Hundred White Daffodils

I wake early so I can open my eyes slowly.

I wake early so I have time to stretch and take a walk with Charlie.

I wake early to hear the sounds of the morning and see the moon.

I wake early to nourish my soul.

Jane Kenyon reminds me to be a steward of my gifts.  She’s speaking specifically about poetry in a chapter titled Everything I Know about Writing Poetry.  These are perfect instructions for nourish, Ramona’s one little word.  The word our spiritual journey group is writing about today, the first Thursday of September.

This early morning a cool front has come in.  For the first time since early spring, the temperature has fallen below 70 degrees.  What this does for my spirit is like a lift to wings.  Fall is in the air.  Energy fills me along with my morning coffee.

To nourish and nurture my self, I wake early.  I’ve learned to savor these early morning hours.  I take my time becoming present.

We all need to learn how to nourish our souls.  Without nourishment, rushing to stress can quickly take over.  Our lives always carry the potential to overload.  When we slow down, take time to reflect and read and walk, we nourish the inner spirit that is always there, waiting for us to take notice and feel loved.

 

 

 

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

This summer after our Father’s Day lunch, a stroll in the lower garden district of New Orleans with my daughters led me to Sophie Bell Wright. When I saw what seemed to be a random statue of a woman, I paused.  Curiosity got the best of me, so I walked across the street and through the tall grass to see this statue.  A woman?  Who is she?

In this season of southern statues causing uprisings, Sophie Bell Wright sits unguarded and untouched, practically hidden from public view.  When I got close enough to read the plaque, I saw that she was a teacher.  I had to know more.

 

My research led me to Know Louisiana, a website curated by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  I have supported this organization for years, but didn’t know about this site for historical documents.  This primary source newspaper article was there.  Click on the image to go to the article.

Sophie B. Wright only lived for 46 years. In those years she struggled with a disability and rose above poverty to create a public day school for girls and a night school for boys who had to work during the day.  In 1904 she established the first school for disabled orphans. In her spare time, Sophie Wright worked for prison reform, public playgrounds, and as president of the Woman’s Club.

I saw a Tweet from a friend about a NY Times article by Julia Baird entitled Why We Should Put Women on Pedestals.  While this article speaks of a statue of Queen Victoria in Quebec that was damaged by vandals, it inspired me to look back at the photo I took this summer. In the process, I found the story of Sophie B. Wright.  This amazing woman should be recognized for her strength and courage during post Civil War New Orleans to face obstacles and persevere for education for all.  This is a statue that will continue to point us toward a deeper understanding of the purpose of statues and monuments: to inspire us to be better, do better, and know better.

 

Celebrate Dawson

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Dawson is new to gifted classes, but he is not new to helping others.  I found out on Friday that he had a bake sale on Thursday to benefit a local diner.  I asked him to tell me all about it.  We talked about the efforts that went into the process, talking with the principal, advertising, and making all the treats.  His goal was $50.  Selling each treat for 50 cents takes a while to reach $50, but he was determined.

He wrote this on his Kidblog post:

I’m so excited I can’t wait till I get to see the happy looks on the homeless people’s faces! I just can’t wait. By the time the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders come, I will have no more food. Some of the comments they gave me were ” Delicious brownies Dawson”, and ” Wow, great cookies Dawson”.

When Dawson finished his post, I asked him what else he was passionate about.  Without hesitation, he said “Reading.”  He had figured out a way to get all his AR points by reading every night before bed.  He also learned that reading before you go to sleep actually creates melatonin and helps you sleep better.  Did I mention that Dawson is in 4th grade?

As a teacher of gifted kids, I am used to being blown away every day.  They can say the most amazing things.  But Dawson’s only been in my class for 2 weeks, and already he is showing the kind of leadership I can work years to instill in my students. I couldn’t help myself; I had to egg him on.

In the end, he created this public service announcement that we recorded and emailed to all the teachers.  What a joy!

Poetry Friday posts are with Kathryn Apel all the way from Australia.

 

Most of my week was spent inside my house watching the weather channel and wondering what Hurricane Harvey had in mind.  He was a destructive force in South Texas.  But here in Acadiana, we got some rain, some wind, and three days off of school.  I am happy we didn’t have to endure the suffering of flooding and wind damage, but there’s a part of me that feels guilty about that.

I’m in charge of this month’s #10foundwords article for Laura Shovan’s Facebook poetry project.  I chose an article that Tabatha Yeatts posted about how we can help Houston: Ways to Help People During Hurricane Harvey.

The ten words I found are: storm, contribute, massive, functioning, need, home, shelter, giving, dramatic, midst.

While the storm was heading north to dissipate, a few bands of wind gusts passed our way.  I love the way the cypress trees bend and wave with the wind.  They are designed to withstand hurricanes and tropical storms.  I went outside to video the trees. When the wind passes through the trees, it sounds like waves on the seaside.

I realized that the video could enhance my poem, so I worked on an iMovie.  If I had been teaching, I never would have had time for this kind of creative play.  The grace of this storm was time to create. The grace of poetry is words to express my deepest empathy.

A Slice of Grace

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Grace takes a breath.

Grace assumes positive intent. Grace gives us permission to fail or forget or forge ahead. Grace helps us to try again, to keep going, to work the tasks, one manageable piece at a time.

Lee Ann Spillane

For my one little word in 2017, I chose Cherish.  There was purpose in this as I knew the special moments with my children would be fewer.  I wanted to be sure to cherish every family event.  And I did.  We had a beautiful wedding in March, and I cherished visiting time with family this summer.

 

Things change.  Fast forward to August, 2017 when the thing I need most is grace.  The kind of grace that Lee Ann Spillane is asking for.  The grace that lets me be imperfect and unorganized, stressed out and overwhelmed.

This grace comes in the questions from my yoga instructor on Saturday:

How will you enter into this day?
Will you try to fit through the needle?
What is the shape of a cloud?

Metaphorical me wants to have grace like a cloud, not the stormy ones that have threatened the Gulf coast this week, but those white fluffy ones.  The ones that cover the sun allowing crepuscular rays to escape.  I find hope in those clouds. I can be any shape I want to be.

I received grace in the storm.

Hurricane Harvey has devastated Houston. For that, I am deeply saddened and continually praying.  Around here in South Louisiana, we’ve had rain, rain, rain.  School was cancelled due to street flooding, but so far no home damage.

My grace came in the shape of a storm.  Time to resettle myself.  Time to regroup, reorganize, and get a grip.  Time to cherish my good fortune and blessings.

Help Houston:

Kate Messner has set up an auction KitLit Cares.  Please consider a bid to benefit yourself and your students and ultimately help our friends in Houston.

This storm just won’t quit.  My friend, author Caroline Sibbald Leech, posted this link for places to donate and ways to help.

 

Be sure to set aside time on Labor Day evening to join the #TeachWrite Twitter chat as we discuss finding time to write.

Hurricane Poetry

Poetry Friday posts are with Jone at Check it Out.

Image from Nola.com

What do you do when there’s a hurricane in the Gulf? Write a poem about it, of course. Here in South Louisiana, we are no strangers to the dangers of hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey is threatening, but all models show the brunt of the storm heading into west Texas, miles away from us. We will have rain, days and days of rain, which could lead to some flooding. That remains to be seen.

I asked my students to list all the words they could think of about hurricanes. Their lists included words like danger, wind, storm, and bigger words like magnificent and treacherous. We talked about the poetry form called a cinquain. We counted syllables in the words we had listed. Doom and gloom poems emerged.

The weather channel is on.  We are watching the progress.  These weather events are scary yet intriguing.  We can channel our thoughts and worries and fascination into words.

Tracking
hurricane’s path
swirling charged red center
unwanted catastrophic storm
Gulf beast

–Margaret Simon

Massive
Dangerous floods
Treacherous destruction
Magnificent monstrous mammoth
Scary
–Noah, 6th grade

Jacob chose to write a free verse poem. I like to introduce forms, but also choice. There should always be choice.

Hurricane Harvey

A spinning circle of destruction
On a treacherous journey through ruined parts of Earth
Walking through this dark thick rain, trying to find home
I see the eye of this magnificent beast
I stare as the tornadoes and rain fly away in the sky
I see the Sun, I know that this monster of wind and rain is over.

–Jacob, 4th grade

Slice of my Heart

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

There’s no denying that this has been a difficult start to a new year of teaching. I’ve been faced with a number of new directives, new policies and new students. I have felt like I would never quite get my feet on the ground.

I started this week with teaching the Book, Head, Heart framework from Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. (Christina Noseck was interviewed by Scholastic and quoted in this article about the framework.) While I was discussing the Heart part of reviewing a book, I made a mental connection. Here I’ve been overwhelmed and quite ranty if you’ve been within earshot lately, but what is the heart of my call to teaching?…the kids.

I looked at my group of students all attentive and ready to learn and realized that none of that other stuff matters all that much. Not as much as this: The heart of my teaching is connecting to the heart of a child. This is going to be a great year all because of the hearts I have the privilege of spending time nurturing.